Glacier Park Attracts More than 3 Million Visitors in 2017

Despite fires and closures, park shatters previous visitation record

By Justin Franz
Apgar Village in Glacier National Park on Aug. 30, 2017. Greg Lindstrom | Flathead Beacon

More than 3 million people have visited Glacier National Park in 2017 making it the busiest year in park history.

According to data released by the National Park Service on Tuesday, 3.3 million people had visited the park through September, a 12.9 percent increase during the same nine-month period in 2016. Last year, the park fell short of the 3 million mark by just 37,000 visitors.

Total visitation in Glacier Park was down in September compared to the same month last year due to the Sprague Fire, which closed a large swath of the west side of the park, including the popular Going-to-the-Sun Road. More than 389,000 people visited the park in September 2017, a 19.4 percent drop from the previous September when the park welcomed more than 482,000 people.

The number of visitors who entered the park through the west entrance dropped by 43.5 percent due to the fire, from 214,300 in September 2016 to 121,000 in September 2017. Visitation to Goat Haunt on the Canadian border was significantly impacted by a wildfire in neighboring Waterton Lakes National Park. About 2,300 people visited the remote section of the park in September 2017, a 62.8 percent decrease from September 2016 when more than 6,200 people visited that outpost.

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